If you’re struggling with the MIA’s current heatwave, thank your lucky stars you weren’t around here this week in 1939, says 79-year-old Wendy Brown.
“I was two months old and dying. My mum kept me alive using wet bags,” she said.
Ms Richards kept an old edition of The Area News, which reported on the 1939 heatwave when 28 people died between January 6 and January 17.
“Thermometers burst when temperatures rose to 120 degrees,” the paper reported. Back then, temperature was recorded using the Fahrenheit scale, with 120 translating to 49 degrees Celsius.
Last Sunday, the temperature reached 45.5 degrees, which was just a shade lower that Griffith’s hottest recorded January day of 46.0 degrees in 2001. But official records were only kept since 1971.
“We grew up in Merriwagga, near Goolgowi, where we didn’t have electricity. We couldn’t even use a fan,” Mrs Brown (nee Richards) said.
Her mother was Edna Richards.
The Area News wrote: “We find reports of refrigerators cutting out, unable to cope with the heat. Of people collapsing in the street, and how the Griffith ambulance and doctors of the district worked round the clock to do a grand job for the people stricken by the extreme heat.”
Wendy Richards survived the heat thanks her mother, and has lived a successful life in the MIA, working as a nurse and teacher.